Today's Isms  (1954) 
Alan Ebenstein, William Ebenstein and Edwin Fogelman

This edition was published in 1958. Original copyright recorded 15Sep54 A153380.

Part I - Part II - Part III - Part IV

I : The Totalitarian Way of LifeEdit

Totalitarian CommunismEdit

'The Economic Interpretation of History'

Before Marx, history was interpreted as but part of the unfolding of God's design of the whole universe. The main difficulty of the religious interpretation of history lies in the fact that God's will is unknown and unknowable to man's direct experience, and that whereas there is only one god, there are many contrasting human conceptions of God and his plans for mankind

A second dominant pre-Marxist approach to the understanding of human history was political: great emperors, kings, legislators, and soldiers were viewed as the decisive forces in history, and historical writing was largely records of kings, parliaments, wars, and peace treaties.

This political emphasis in human affairs has one main shortcoming: it tends to exaggerate the relative role that most people assign to government and politics in the total setting of their lives. It is natural that statesmen, politicians, and political philosophers see in politics the most important single element in human relations, and in political remedies the most important answer to human troubles. But human nature and human problems are more intricate than politics; politics is only one approach-and not always the most penetrating one-among many others.

A third major approach, the hero interpretation of history ( popularized in modern times by Carlyle ) , is loosely related to the political one, inasmuch as most heroes in world history are conventionally chosen from great kings, emperors, generals, legislators, founders of new states, and pioneering reformers and revolutionaries. The main weakness of the hero interpretation is that it overstresses the role of individuals at the expense of larger cultural, religious, social, and economic circumstances that form the back-leadership. Although it is undoubtedly true that leaders mold events, it is no less true that events mold leaders.


This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was legally published within the United States (or the United Nations Headquarters in New York subject to Section 7 of the United States Headquarters Agreement) before 1964, and copyright was not renewed.

Works published in 1954 would have had to renew their copyright in either 1981 or 1982, i.e. at least 27 years after they were first published/registered but not later than 31 December in the 28th year. As it was not renewed, it entered the public domain on 1 January 1983.